Hold That Thought-logo

Hold That Thought

History Podcasts >

From anthropology to art history, from physics to philosophy - Hold That Thought is your home to explore a world of ideas. Every week, we ask world-class researchers from Washington University in St. Louis to share their passions and discoveries.

From anthropology to art history, from physics to philosophy - Hold That Thought is your home to explore a world of ideas. Every week, we ask world-class researchers from Washington University in St. Louis to share their passions and discoveries.
More Information


United States


From anthropology to art history, from physics to philosophy - Hold That Thought is your home to explore a world of ideas. Every week, we ask world-class researchers from Washington University in St. Louis to share their passions and discoveries.






The Secret Lives of Plants

Biologist Elizabeth Haswell wants to change the way that people think about plants. What do we know about how plants sense their environment, and what remains a mystery? The answers may surprise you. Haswell teaches biology at Washington University in St. Louis and is host of The Taproot podcast.


Frog love and the decoy effect

This Valentine's Day, we bring you a story of frog romance and economics - with a side of math and 1960s game shows. Which mate will the frog bachelorette choose, and how does her choice relate to human decision-making? Economist Paulo Natenzon connects the dots.


Becoming a Biotech Explorer

A competition for a million-dollar grant leads biologist Joe Jez to creative an innovative program for first-year and sophomore students.


Amazing Creatures: Cyanobacteria

Biologist Himadri Pakrasi, director of Washington University's International Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability, has been studying tiny creatures called cyanobacteria for more than 25 years. He shares what we know about cyanobacteria, and how they may hold clues to understanding our world's environment and creating a more sustainable future.


Would you be my neighbor?

Using survey data, sociologist Ariela Schachter has investigated how Americans think about race, immigration status, assimilation, and what it means to be ‘similar.’ She discusses her process and findings.


Moms at Work: Policies and Perspectives in Europe and the US

Sociologist Caitlyn Collins frequently remembers a familiar phrase from her childhood. Collins’ mom, a successful sales director, often said with a sigh: “If we were in Europe, this would be so much easier!” So, was Collins’ mom correct? Are the lives of working mothers that much easier in Europe? Collins now investigates how public policies affect family life in both Europe and the US. She shares some of her findings on the laws and cultural attitudes that shape women's careers and lives.


How to Sit on the Iron Throne: Power and Violence in "Game of Thrones" and History

Rival families fight for the throne by racking up the body count through political maneuvers, murders, battles, and betrayals. This summation is true as much for the hit HBO series "Game of Thrones" as it is for history, specifically the Atlantic world of early modern era. Historian Alex Dubé examines how our understandings of power and violence have fundamentally changed over time, and what modern day shows like "Game of Thrones" tell us about the present. Does absolute power corrupt...


High-School Students Should Study Earth Science. Here's Why.

Ever wonder why some subjects are taught in high school while others are not, or why students spend so much time memorizing facts? According to geophysicist Michael Wysession, science curricula in the US are based on standards that are more than 120 years old, and being stuck in the past has had serious consequences. This Earth Day, learn why Wysession believes in a new approach to science education.


Making Sense of Klansville

During the civil rights era, North Carolina was home to more dues-paying Klan members than the rest of the South combined. When conducting research on this chapter of history for his acclaimed book Klansville, USA, sociologist David Cunningham encountered the work of a journalist named Pete Young, who in the 1960s attempted to understand what was happening in North Carolina. Cunningham shares some of this history and describes how Young's insights could hold lessons for today.


Mapping Asthma: The Geography of Inequality

Kelly Harris, a doctoral student in education, uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to identify ‘hotspots’ of childhood asthma in St. Louis. Higher asthma rates are linked with lower income levels, and Harris wants to understand why. Through data, she seeks to discover solutions to health inequalities in the St. Louis region and beyond.


Right to Work? Unions & Income Inequality

Over the past three decades in the United States, the wealth gap between the richest Americans and everyone else has reached new extremes. At the same time, labor union membership has drastically decreased. In his book What Unions No Longer Do, sociologist Jake Rosenfeld argues that you can't understand one trend without the other. Rosenfeld shares ideas from his book and considers what so-called "Right to Work" legislation may mean for the future of organized labor.


The Legal Mind of Thomas Jefferson

Before becoming the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was a successful lawyer in Virginia. His legal training influenced the way he thought about government and politics, yet this earlier part of his career has largely been ignored by historians. David Konig, professor of history and law at Washington University in St. Louis, has spent years analyzing the complex legal notes and papers that tell the story of Jefferson's time as an attorney. This...


Love Music Across Time

From today's top 100 Billboard songs to ancient Sumerian scripts, human beings have always sung about love. So how have love songs changed across the ages? Have they evolved to reflect society's understandings of love? Or have we been singing about basically the same things for millennia? Today, we'll look at one batch of love songs called the Loire Valley Chansonniers, made up of five songbooks from fifteenth-century France. Clare Bokulich, an assistant professor of musicology at...


Staging the Blues: The Ma Rainey Story

Before film or even audio recordings, audiences across the south flocked to traveling tent shows for entertainment. Under these tents, female performers like Gertrude "Ma" Rainey helped invent and popularize a new type of music: the blues. Paige McGinley, author of Staging the Blues: From Tent Shows to Tourism, brings these elaborate performances to life and explains why they are so often forgotten.


Performing Emotion: Freemasons and the Theater of Ritual

Hundreds of years ago in France, a group of men set up dramatic lighting, put on costumes, read scripts, and acted out a dramatic story. Despite all these elements of the theater, the men were not performing for an audience or acting on a stage. This group of Masons, one of many in 18th-century France, met in secret and created elaborate performances to initiate and promote their members. Pannill Camp, associate professor of drama and co-host of On TAP: A Theater and Performing Arts...


Performing Gold: Fanny Kemble, Modern Banking, and the Evolution of Acting

When actress Fanny Kemble took the stage in 1831 as Bianca, the pure and mistreated wife in Henry Milman's play Fazio, she astounded audiences with her true-to-life portrayal of jealousy and grief. Julia Walker, associate professor of drama and English at Washington University in St. Louis, brings the performance to life and explains why it was so extraordinary. Walker connects Kemble's acting style to historical events and anxieties, especially changing ideas about money and banking.


Who Should Sing 'Ol' Man River'?

What can one Broadway tune reveal about the history of American race relations? In his book "Who Should Sing Ol' Man River?: The Lives of an American Song," musicologist Todd Decker explores how the meaning of "Ol' Man River" has been reshaped over time. Discover the song's surprising journey from Broadway ballad to pop anthem, dance ditty, activist anthem, and beyond. (A version of this episode was first released in 2013.)


Pilgrim Fathers, How The Thanksgiving We Know And Love Was Manufactured

Thanksgiving is a day most Americans look forward to, a day of watching parades and feasting on delicious food with friends and family. However, the rosy picture we have in our minds of our Pilgrim forefathers sitting down to eat with the local Native American tribes is, frankly, a myth. In honor of the holiday, American religious historian Mark Valeri shares the true and harrowing tales of the Pilgrim immigrants, and how and why their story came to national prominence in the post-Civil...


A Chemist's Quest for New Antibiotics

Remember the last time you were sick and your doctor gave you antibiotics? What might have happened if those drugs didn't work? As antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread around the world, this scenario is much more than a "what if." The World Health Organization calls antibiotic resistance "one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today." To mark World Antibiotic Awareness Week, chemist TIm Wencewicz explains how we got here, why big pharmaceutical...


Social Citizens: How Peer Networks Influence Elections

When you walk into a voting booth in less than a week to vote for the future president of the United States, you'll be all by yourself making a very personal decision - right? Betsy Sinclair, a political scientist at Washington University in St. Louis and author of The Social Citizen: Peer Networks and Political Behavior, believes that in reality, politics is often more social than personal. Here she discusses the place of Facebook, YouTube, and face-to-face interactions in political...


Try Premium for 30 days

Live games for all NFL, MLB, NBA, & NHL teams
Commercial-Free Music
No Display Ads